As I sit here in an airport in Atlanta waiting to fly back to Detroit, I can't help but feel an extreme sense of eagerness to get back on a plane in a few days and fly to paradise: Pro Tour Kaladesh (also, Hawaii...). I decided to hit up Grand Prix Atlanta to get a crash course in Limited in advance of Honolulu, but honestly, the Standard portion is the most daunting. There is so much information to decipher and very little time to do it in.
I've got plans to playtest nonstop until the event begins on Friday, and I've not even 100% settled on a deck yet! There are so many deck options and so little time to tune them all. I feel fortunate to be playing a format where there are lots of choices rather than only a few reasonable ones. It is always fun to be playing on a Pro Tour where the format is mysterious rather than solved.
At a Pro Tour, there are always some cards that spike as the best players show everybody else how to "cast spells the cool way." Today, I'd like to take a stab at what a few of those cards may ultimately be. As always, I will be specifically looking at cards that I think have a reasonable shot of making money as a result of a Pro Tour spike. So, I'm not really looking at whether or not the card has Modern appeal, Legacy applicability, etc., but rather at cards that I think have a chance of becoming very hot specifically as a result of PT play.
This card seems like a very powerful finisher for an unfair combo deck. Whether or not such a deck is capable of a breakout performance is yet to be seen...
There is no doubt that if Aetherflux Reservoir has a break out performance, there is a high chance that Paradoxical Outcome will also be involved. The ability to bounce a bunch of cheap (or free!) artifacts to generate massive amounts of "storm" and card draw is a scary thought!
The biggest question is whether or not such a deck will be able to fight through the amount of artifact hate that will undoubtedly be there. Still, cards like Dispel and Negate are in the format and could lend a post-sideboard hand in the equation. Both of these cards are still dirt cheap—so it could be a nice time to jump in if you think they will hit at the PT.
In particular, Paradoxical Outcome is a card that I am 100% certain has Vintage appeal and playability, so snatching up premium versions now is likely a wise move. Not that this has anything to do with the Pro Tour—but it is still useful to think about.
Aetherworks Marvel is a combo waiting to happen. I've seen lots of different builds of the deck and think it has an outside shot of being the breakout deck of the event.
The ability to fire off the Marvel on the fourth turn and cast an Emrakul, the Promised End or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is pretty messed up. There are not many decks capable of fighting back against those unfair beats!
I also love the fact that, aside from permission, nothing really stops the Aetherworks Marvel from "firing the cannon" when it comes into play. Play. Shoot. Win. This is unlike Aetherflux Reservoir, which probably requires its pilot to untap with it in play to win (making it vulnerable for one turn). For this reason, the Marvel deck can sort of ignore Disenchant effects to some extent.
I've also noticed that this card has been kind of dodgy to find at stores, which means that perhaps more than a few people are buying them up in preparation of the Pro Tour!
But wait! Didn't Smuggler's Copter already have a breakout event last weekend?
Indeed. However, I think that Copter is actually a unique card in that it is a format- and game-defining card. Wizards doesn't typically make cards this powerful, and there is a chance that Copter becomes one of the "premium threats" in all of Magic for years to come.
I mean, the card is a two-mana Phantom Monster that can go into a deck of any combination of colors. It loots in combat, and due to being a vehicle, can't be hit by Wrath of God effects or by sorcery-speed removal. There is a chance this card peaks after the Pro Tour—especially if the best players either A) don't find a way to beat it, or B) just give in and admit it is unbeatable.
(I'm probably playing this card in Vintage at Eternal Weekend—so, the Eternal and Modern reach of this spell is very, very real).
Copter could easily be a gainer post-Honolulu. It is possibly the most powerful card in Standard, and if everybody determines that they need to jump in the pilot's seat at the same time, copies could be tough to get a hold of!
Fevered Visions has been calmly, casually ticking up in price for six months, and I could see it breaking into the next realm very soon. The card is very good and also very cool. I love cards that have both Constructed and casual appeal. At the very least, it is a great sideboard card against a control deck, as it ensures you draw more cheap threats than they can play clunky answers. At best, it is a defining element of a UR Burn deck.
The card is really tough to find in my local game store community, which tells me something about the demand, at least locally. UR Thermo-Alchemist is a deck that frequently shoots up in popularity and then kind of fades away. It makes sense to me that Copter would be really good in this kind of a deck, which is maybe a reason to be looking at the other non-Copter cards that are a little outside of the box.
I've heard a lot of murmurings from people playing on the Pro Tour that Golgari Delirium is what they are gravitating toward playing. People love their midrange aggro decks, and if the deck has a good match up against RW Thopters, there is a high chance that the deck has a big showing in Hawaii. I've had multiple people tell me that they are loving Mindwrack Demon in their more aggressive builds, and so I think the card has a shot at being kind of a breakout star at the event.
I was actually really surprised that the card didn't pick up steam already. I have put it into several decks and have always been very impressed by the gigantic, flying body that also instantly turns on delirium. I have high hopes for Mindwrack Demon in Hawaii.
I was also told by a dealer friend that the card had been selling out all weekend long, which is not insignificant.
If Golgari Delirium seems to be something people are really interested in, I think Grim Flayer has a shot at being an even more expensive card. People might be willing to pay more than they usually would for a Standard card because it is also a Modern card, but I also think that Flayer might just have a very high level of Standard demand. Most people don't really own a ton of Eldritch Moon cards for some reason, and there could be a big run on the card if it sees success at the Pro Tour. It also doesn't hurt that BGx midrange is an archetype that pretty much every Magic player alive can (and often actively wants) to pilot.
I've also noticed a trend that it appears to be sold out pretty much everywhere. So, you do the math on that...
In a dedicated Golgari Delirium shell, a card like Grim Flayer really is just a Tarmogoyf—which is what every threat aspires to be in every Golgari control deck ever. While it is certainly true to say you could do a lot worse... in this case, we may not be able to do any better.
Well, I am super excited to head off to Hawaii. It is a big event for me, as I haven't played on a Pro Tour in quite a while. I'm not sure what deck I'll be playing—but hopefully it will be something that I'm very enthusiastic to play! Be sure to keep up on all the action at the Pro Tour, especially to the price spikes. I'll be tweeting and Facebooking about my tournament online, so be sure to follow me if you don't already for updates and information live from Honolulu: @briandemars1.
Wish me luck!